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Guevarra ensures speed trial of Jolo misencounter

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday ensured a speedy trial in the controversial Jolo, Sulu ‘misencounter’ case where four Army officers allegedly killed by nine policemen last June 29.

In any event, the Department of Justice will ensure the speedy trial of the Jolo case and obtain justice for the slain Army soldiers,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra issued the statement after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, dismissed from the service the nine police officers involved in the incident.

Sinas approved the recommendation of the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) to dismiss Senior Master Sergeant Abdelzhimar Padjiri, Master Sergeant Hannie Baddiri, Staff Sergeants Iskandar Susulan and Erniskar Sappal, Corporal Sulki Andaki and Patrolman Moh Nur Pasani from the Jolo Municipal Police Station. Also ordered dismissed were Staff Sergeant Almudzrin Hadjaruddin and Patrolmen Alkajal Mandangan and Rajiv Putalan from the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Sulu police.

The respondent-lawmen are facing complaints for murder and planting of evidence.

In the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) complaint, also charged with neglect of duty under the principle of command responsibility were PCol. Michael Bayawan head of the Sulu Provincial Police Office, PMaj. Walter Annayo head of the Jolo Municipal Police Station and PCPT Ariel J Corcino of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit.

The NBI has conducted an independent probe into the alleged misencounter between Army officers and policemen in Jolo, Sulu after the leadership of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines have been giving conflicting versions.

The fatalities were identified in a police report from the Jolo municipal police station as Maj. Arvin Indamog, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit (9ISU), Capt. Irwin Managuelod, field station commander, and intelligence operatives Sgt. Eric Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula.

Reports from the Sulu Provincial Police Office said the policemen involved claimed self-defense, after the soldiers supposedly lifted and pointed their firearms first at the police.

The report added that the incident occurred when the soldiers allegedly tried to flee the police station after they were brought in for questioning.

The Army, however, refuted the claims, calling the initial police report as “fabricated” and “misleading.

Army spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala Jr. maintained that the troops could not have engaged the policemen in a firefight as they had “properly coordinated and identified themselves” as soldiers.